Why People Don’t Understand (whatever it is that they don’t understand) – Part Three

7. We often assume there are only two answers to any situation. There are always more than two answers to anything. If we don’t question everything and base our questions on real facts that have been developed by people who have expertise in the field, we will never get what we say we want. If we can only see two alternatives in any situation, we are trapped in our own minds.

8. “Everyone has a right to his own opinion.” Or, “We must keep an open mind.” Nonsense. We have an obligation to evaluate opinions that are important to the community. If the outcome of a particular opinion would be harmful to the community, we have an obligation to speak up and explain why we think it would be harmful. Based in common humanity, everyone does NOT have a right to his own opinion, because there are a great many opinions out there that cause real harm — most importantly and subtly by leading us away from understanding the biological and social boundaries of our human rights. But more obviously, if you want an example, I think some of Hitler’s opinions should have been challenged a bit sooner than they were. If we can’t talk about our opinions, stories and metaphors in a discussion format, but only by two-sided debate, then it is almost certain that our opinions are causing a great deal of suffering in ways that we don’t even imagine.

9. We are afraid to ask questions. Where did THAT come from; it is intensely un-American. I was taught that it’s OK to discuss anything, but it is not OK to do cause harm or suffering to others. Now it seems like it’s OK for anyone to say or even do whatever indecency or atrocity, but nobody should question or discuss the harm caused.

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